Anybody can get infected with nail fungus, but the disease is much more common in athletes than non-athletes. Athletes are affected by nail fungus, or onychomycosis as it is also called, and swimmers are three times as likely to be infected as the general population. The fungi that cause onychomycosis love places that are dark, moist and warm, so sweaty sports shoes provide the perfect breeding ground for the disease. Athletes are also more likely to subject their feet to repeated trauma, which allows fungi to invade the nails.
Most of all nail fungus infections are caused by dermatophytes – the same type of parasitic microorganism that is responsible for athlete’s foot. Infected toenails often become discoloured, turning yellow-green or brown. Other symptoms include brittleness and thickening of the nails. Eventually, the nails may start to crumble, chip or fall off completely.
There are several reasons why nail fungus in athletes is so common:
Even if nail fungus in athletes is common, there are several things you can do to minimize your risk of an infection. Always keep your toenails neatly trimmed and wash your feet with soap after each workout. Make sure to dry your feet thoroughly with a towel after each shower to prevent infection and let them air dry as often as possible. Keeping your feet dry and well ventilated will help ward off fungus. Changing socks and shoes frequently also reduces the chance of infection. Old shoes can harbor a large number of fungal spores and you may even need to throw away heavily used sports shoes.
When using public showers or locker rooms, wear foot protection such as sandals or flip-flops to protect your feet from the floor, and avoid walking around barefoot at home as well. Avoid sharing towels or personal items like nail clippers or files with other people, since they may transmit fungal infections.
If you are experiencing onoychomycosis symptoms, do not ignore them. Nail fungus can be difficult to cure and you have a much better chance of success if you start treatment early. Mild to moderate infections can be treated with topical products like Naloc. By a physical antifungal effect Naloc kills the fungi that typically cause nail infection while at the same time reducing discolouration and strengthens and smoothens the outer layers of the nail. Although nail fungus treatments can be expected to take several months, Naloc improves the visual appearance of the nail already in 2-4 weeks. More severe infections may require surgery, sometimes in combination with strong oral drugs.